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Title page for ETD etd-03302015-162208

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Wagener, Madison Adele
Author's Email Address madison.a.wagener@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03302015-162208
Title The Perception of Biological Sound: A Test of the Social Deafferentation Hypothesis
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David Lubinski Committee Member
Sohee Park Committee Member
  • social information
  • social isolation
  • hallucinations
  • loneliness
Date of Defense 2015-04-01
Availability unrestricted
The Social Deafferentation (SDA) hypothesis explains the presence of delusions and hallucinations in schizophrenia as the outcome of hyperactive social brain network triggered by prolonged social isolation in vulnerable individuals (Hoffman, 2007). The present study sought to test SDA by examining the roles of loneliness and social isolation in false perception of social meaning in auditory stimuli in relation to psychosis-risk.

Young, healthy participants with normal hearing completed the Prodromal Questionnaire (PQ-B), UCLA Loneliness Questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory and Openness to Experience Questionnaire. Then they were asked to listen to 1-second audio clips and decide whether the sound was human or non-human in a two-alternative forced-choice task. The auditory stimuli were extracted from the Montreal. There were two types of stimuli: human vocal sound and energy-matched non-human sounds. Half the stimuli contained white noise to degrade the target sound. There were 167 trials containing human vocal sound, human vocal sound with modified white noise, energy-matched non-human sound, or energy-matched non-human sound with modified white noise. Sensitivity was calculated by subtracting the proportion of false alarms from the proportion of hits. Loneliness was correlated with increased false alarms rates, as was openness to experience but depression was not related to increased false alarms. PQB was also not correlated with sensitivity or the proportion of false alarms. These results suggest that socially isolated individuals are more likely to perceive and/or interpret ambiguous information in the environment as socially meaningful and hence provide partial support for the SDA hypothesis.

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